Saturday, July 28, 2007

hittin' up Big Go for retro OR a note on Custom Robo

I note that touchstone Racketboy has late done a post on under-regarded Xbox games. Initially I wondered whether this isn't a pernicious over-extension of the notion 'retro'.

After a couple more diet cokes, tho', I chillaxed and started to use this 'retro' notion as a way to limn certain threads of gaming pleasure(s). Por exemplo, the delightful Drill Dozer, tho' new, counts as retro because its gameplay, while technical and highly demanding, is strictly within the confines of 2-d platforming tropes. That is, Drill Dozer does what Super Mario might have done, had those coders known certain manuvers were possible.(1) Drill Dozer does what Super Mario'nt!

As a fairly retro-oriented guy, it's clear that I often chase old pleasures in new packages. Lately I stumbled over a demo download for Custom Robo, which finally--finally!!--scratches my itch for Virtual On.(2) This giant-robot wargame was one of my greatest arcade pleasures(3), and I've long lamented its inaccessability. Custom Robo offers the same kind of fast-action, robot-on-robot violence, tactics-on-the-fly experience, and it contains massive customization options. The key similarities: it's batt'ling robots, and there's lots of jumping around with hiding behind boxes. I'm of the opinion that with these characteristics in place, it's hard for a game not to be good.(4)

Optimized for multiplayer usually does little for me. I've recently realized I'm a partisan of Nintendo's point that playing games with people you know, sharing the same space, is an experience of a different kind than playing with remote strangers. For donkey moons, I've thought I didn't like multiplayer gaming--I play games because I don't have any friends. Turns out, I just don't care to share my play with strangers. Or my porn, or my goddamned Oly, Canada! Buy yr own twatlapping beer, you cheap bastard!

Now DDT doesn't have a DS, and I doubt that's changing anytime soon. And Canada buys like one game a century.(5) Noway is Custom Robo gonna be one of those, and I'm done picking up games for that pigfucker just so I'll have somebody to play with. But I dunno. I actually had a bit of fun playing Metroid Prime: Hunters online against strangers, maybe Custom Robo'd be similar. In any case, for thirty wing-wangs, reckon I could cobble together a custom robot scrapper I could love.(6)

-Fat

(1) Hinting at an extension of this point, it would be interesting to consider Viewtiful Joe. My initial response would be that VJ is not properly considered as a 'retro' title, tho' it's explicitly a return to the 2-d side-scrolling brawler style. It doesn't fit because it relies on intensely novel moves that actually comment on on the standard ways of playing video games. If there's anything alien to retro, it's meta...

(2) I'd try to score Virtual On's sequel for my beloved 'Cast, but I wouldn't want to play it w/out the special controller which is scrotum-shrivellingly spendy out there on the 'nets. Plus, the only person who'd ever play it with me would be DDT, and:
(a) he never really comes over to play anymore;
(b) I'd really have to buy two scrotum-shrivellingly spendy special controllers to play it right.

His arcade dominance of me in this game remains second only to his mastery of me at NBA Live. In some ways it felt worse, tho', as it seemed so effortless. I'm frantically boost-jumping and trying to hit him w/ a special to buy some time as he snipes quietly, knowing where I'm going to be before I flail toward the place of my doom.

(3) I liked the Atari tank game T-Mekk a little better. Maybe I'll buy the Milestone-developed Tank Beat instead? It's getting abysmal reveiews, but I dunno. I trust Milestone. Mostly.

(4) Kinda slutty, also an idiot, that's me.

(5) 'Sides, we're pretty happy with Star Trek Tactical Assault. I'm a dominant, crushing 1-0 lifetime against him--Klingons FTW!!--and have begun practicing in secret single-player skirmishes. When I unleash the Awesome Power of Special Manuvers against him? He's gonna shit a big Canadian brick.

(6) During Giant Robot Month 2006, Tycho pointed out that his Chromehounds experience was entirely bound up in customizing his mech, creating a device that served as a portrait of his very soul. Rather doubt Custom Robo'd allow that, since I don't forsee any robot components corresponding to my core soul constituents of alcoholism, pornography enthusiasm, and all-consuming rage. Worth a shot, tho', yah?

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